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United States advance despite 1-0 defeat to Germany

Thanks to some help from the result between Ghana and Portugal the United States are moving on from Group G despite failing to get the result they needed against Germany to ensure their passage.

Lahm and his shadow
Lahm and his shadow
Robert Cianflone

The United States got the job done in Group G but they certainly made their fans sweat it out for a while on Thursday afternoon.  With the Americans and Germans both needing just a single point to book their places in the next round it was possible that neither team would come out really pushing for the win but that was certainly not the case.

The Germans came out and put on a passing clinic against the Americans in the opening stages but it seemed that Jurgen Klinsmann's men were more than happy to let them stroke the ball around the pitch.  The Americans were giving them plenty of space out on the wings and packing the middle of the field banking on the ability of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez to beat Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski to any crosses.  The approach paid off for them in the early stages and after settling in a bit the Americans actually managed to take a foothold in the match.

For most of the first half it was the Germans that dictated play but the Americans did enough to limit their chances and when they did come close it was Gonzalez who stepped up with some strong tackling to clear away any danger.  The few chances that the Americans did generate for themselves came off of quick counter attacks that often included Michael Bradley playing quality balls over the top for the likes of Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey to try and run on to.  It never quite came off though as the Americans best chance of the half came from Graham Zusi who saw his effort go over the bar without really troubling Manuel Neuer.

The second half saw the Germans make a key tactical change with the introduction of Miroslav Klose.  His presence in the box instantly gave the Americans one more thing to worry about as now allowing the Germans easy crosses could be a recipe for disaster with one of the best headers of the ball lurking in the area.

It was Muller who would get the break through for the Germans though as Tim Howard made the initial stop but the rebound fell kindly to the German forward who powered it in to the far corner of the goal.  There was not a whole lot Howard could have done about the goal having just gotten back to his feet after making the initial save.

There Americans again came close to working Neuer in the closing stages of the game but Bedoya's shot was blocked and Dempsey could not get his effort on target.  The final score of 1-0 for Germany was enough for them to take top spot in the group and book a date with the runner up from Group H.

Going down 1-0 had the American fans worrying about the result between Ghana and Portugal which would now decide their fate.  The worst case scenario for the Americans would have been Ghana taking the win but they went down in the first half thanks to an own goal.

Ghana did make things tense in the second half when they came within one goal of knocking the Americans out as Asamoah Gyan headed home to level the score at 1-1.  If they had found a winner and the Americans remained down 1-0 it would have meant Ghana joining Germany in the next round.  It was not to be though as Christiano Ronaldo stepped up to restore Portugal's one goal lead.

In the end, a 2-1 win for Portugal brought them level with the United States on points but thanks to their throttling at the hands of Germany the Portuguese are out on goal difference. It is the Germans and the Americans moving on from Group G as the United States just manage to surive their group of death.

For TFC that means that Michael Bradley will be gone for at least a few days longer.  The midfielder once again went the full 90 and though he was not spectacular in this game he did put in a solid performance covering a lot of ground and hassling Philip Lahm for much of the game.  He was quiet offensively though but it was clear that the Germans considering him the key threat in the American midfield as he was consistently being tightly marked by more than one defender.

The Americans will now have to wait to find out who they will get in the next round.  They will head to Salvador to play the winning place team of Group H on July 1st.  Belgium currently sit in pole position to win that group but we will not know until they wrap up their final round of play later in the day on Thursday.